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"Although screening and initial parasite densities correlated (r = 0.736; P < .0001), the parasite densities of many children dropped before the first artesunate dose was taken (data points below the line of equality). This finding may be due to the often-synchronous sequestration of late ring-stage parasitized RBCs in microvessels  and opsonic removal of parasitized RBCs, both of which may decrease half-life. B, Representative flow cytometry scatterplot showing that 20.6% of parasitized RBCs in this child were recognized by autologous IgG. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background. Artemisinin resistance, a long parasite clearance half-life in response to artemisinin, has been described in patients with Plasmodium falciparum malaria in southeast Asia. Few baseline half-lives have been reported from Africa, where artemisinins were recently introduced.
Methods. We treated P. falciparum malaria in 215 Malian children aged 0.5–15 years with artesunate (0, 24, 48 hours) and amodiaquine (72, 96, 120 hours). We estimated half-life by measuring parasite density every 6 hours until undetectable and evaluated the effects of age, sex, ethnicity, and red blood cell (RBC) polymorphisms on half-life. We quantified the proportion of parasitized RBCs recognized by autologous immunoglobulin G (IgG).
Results. The geometric mean half-life was 1.9 hours (95% confidence interval, 1.8–2.0) and did not correlate with parasite ex vivo susceptibility to artemisinins. In a linear model accounting for host factors, half-life decreased by 4.1 minutes for every 1-year increase in age. The proportion of parasitized RBCs recognized by IgG correlated inversely with half-life (r = −0.475; P = .0006).
Conclusions. Parasite clearance in response to artesunate is faster in Mali than in southeast Asia. IgG responses to parasitized RBCs shorten half-life and may influence this parameter in areas where age is not an adequate surrogate of immunity and correlates of parasite-clearing immunity have not been identified.
Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00669084.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2013 · The Journal of Infectious Diseases
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hemoglobin (Hb) variants are associated with reduced risk of life-threatening Plasmodium falciparum malaria syndromes, including cerebral malaria and severe malarial anemia. Despite decades of research, the mechanisms by which common Hb variants - sickle HbS, HbC, α-thalassemia, fetal HbF - protect African children against severe and fatal malaria have not been fully elucidated. In vitro experimental and epidemiological data have long suggested that Hb variants do not confer malaria protection by restricting the growth of parasites in red blood cells (RBCs). Recently, four Hb variants were found to impair cytoadherence, the binding of P. falciparum-infected RBCs (PfRBCs) to microvascular endothelial cells (MVECs), a centrally important event in both parasite survival and malaria pathogenesis in humans. Impaired cytoadherence is associated with abnormal display of P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1), the parasite's major cytoadherence ligand and virulence factor, on the surface of host RBCs. We propose a model in which Hb variants allow parasites to display relatively low levels of PfEMP1, sufficient for sequestering PfRBCs in microvessels and avoiding their clearance from the bloodstream by the spleen. By preventing the display of high levels of PfEMP1, Hb variants may weaken the binding of PfRBCs to MVECs, compromising their ability to activate endothelium and initiate the downstream microvascular events that drive the pathogenesis of malaria.
No preview · Article · May 2012 · Microbes and Infection
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum has been reported in Pailin, western Cambodia, detected as a slow parasite clearance rate in vivo. Emergence of this phenotype in western Thailand and possibly elsewhere threatens to compromise the effectiveness of all artemisinin-based combination therapies. Parasite genetics is associated with parasite clearance rate but does not account for all variation. We investigated contributions of both parasite genetics and host factors to the artemisinin-resistance phenotype in Pursat, western Cambodia.
Between June 19 and Nov 28, 2009, and June 26 and Dec 6, 2010, we enrolled patients aged 10 years or older with uncomplicated falciparum malaria, a density of asexual parasites of at least 10 000 per μL of whole blood, no symptoms or signs of severe malaria, no other cause of febrile illness, and no chronic illness. We gave participants 4 mg/kg artesunate at 0, 24, and 48 h, 15 mg/kg mefloquine at 72 h, and 10 mg/kg mefloquine at 96 h. We assessed parasite density on thick blood films every 6 h until undetectable. The parasite clearance half-life was calculated from the parasite clearance curve. We genotyped parasites with 18 microsatellite markers and patients for haemoglobin E, α-thalassaemia, and a mutation of G6PD, which encodes glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase. To account for the possible effects of acquired immunity on half-life, we used three surrogates for increased likelihood of exposure to P falciparum: age, sex, and place of residence. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00341003.
We assessed 3504 individuals from all six districts of Pursat province seeking treatment for malaria symptoms. We enrolled 168 patients with falciparum malaria who met inclusion criteria. The geometric mean half-life was 5·85 h (95% CI 5·54-6·18) in Pursat, similar to that reported in Pailin (p=0·109). We identified two genetically different parasite clone groups: parasite group 1 (PG1) and parasite group 2 (PG2). Non-significant increases in parasite clearance half-life were seen in patients with haemoglobin E (0·55 h; p=0·078), those of male sex (0·96 h; p=0·064), and in 2010 (0·68 h; p=0·068); PG1 was associated with a significant increase (0·79 h; p=0·033). The mean parasite heritability of half-life was 0·40 (SD 0·17).
Heritable artemisinin resistance is established in a second Cambodian province. To accurately identify parasites that are intrinsically susceptible or resistant to artemisinins, future studies should explore the effect of erythrocyte polymorphisms and specific immune responses on half-life variation.
Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.
No preview · Article · Aug 2012 · The Lancet Infectious Diseases